Thursday, September 7, 2017

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. Submitted episode titles are in parentheses. Beware of minor spoilers for listed episodes.

Riz Ahmed as Paul-Louis, Girls (All I Ever Wanted)
I’m a big fan of Ahmed’s from “Four Lions” and “Nightcrawler,” and it’s great to see him as a double Emmy nominee this year, for his lead role in the miniseries “The Night Of” and for his two-episode guest spot as a surfing instructor on HBO’s recently-wrapped dramedy. Ahmed is refreshingly three-dimensional as a character that could have fallen flat but turns out to be very memorable. I don’t think he can compete against the comics in this category, but I’m sure he’ll get a few votes.

Dave Chappelle as Various Characters, Saturday Night Live (Host: Dave Chappelle)
Chappelle has three previous Emmy nominations for writing and producing, but this is pretty much the first thing he’s done on television or film in about a decade. I can’t imagine that he knew he’d have to steer the ship right after Donald Trump won the election, but he managed to do a great job and be both poignant and funny in the process. Some of the humor is a bit specific to his past projects, so I’m not sure how broadly appealing it is, but he has a good shot at the win.

Tom Hanks as Various Characters, Saturday Night Live (Host: Tom Hanks)
Hanks has been nominated fifteen times previously for producing, directing, and writing, winning seven times. This is his first bid for acting, and what a marvelous one it is. Hanks feels very comfortable on stage, marking his ninth time hosting this show. He’s used very well in sketches, particularly parodying his “Sully” performance and acting as America’s dad. I honestly think that he could win, given that he does have two Oscars and he’s still one of the most beloved actors working in Hollywood.

Hugh Laurie as Tom James, Veep (Blurb)
Despite winning three Golden Globes, Laurie has yet to win an Emmy. He was nominated six times for “House” and then again last year for “The Night Manager.” I thought that Laurie should have been nominated - and I gave him an AFT Award - for his role on this show two seasons ago, and so now he’s finally here for his lone appearance in this season in a far less charming context, beating Selina to the punch in revealing that she and Tom had sex in the White House. I don’t see this winning voters over, especially considering the stacked competition, but it could be a good way to reward him after passing him over so many times.

Lin-Manuel Miranda as Various Characters, Saturday Night Live (Host: Lin-Manuel Miranda)
Lin-Manuel Miranda has three Tonys and two Grammys, and it turns out that he has an Emmy too, for writing a song performed during the 2014 Tony Awards. Now he’s here on his own merit for hosting the variety sketch series. His sketches are mostly a rehash of his “Hamilton” fame and his enthusiasm for rapping. He’s popular and could well win, but given that he didn’t even win the Tony for acting - losing to his costar - suggests that the same may happen here.

Matthew Rhys as Chuck Palmer, Girls (American Bitch)
Rhys was first nominated for “The Americans” last year and is back again this year, now as a double nominee. I think Rhys is here mostly because of voters’ affinity for his regular series role, but I suppose that he did make an impression as an author Hannah interviews for the duration of an episode facing some severe allegations. He’s not likeable at all, and so I don’t see Rhys really being a contender in this particular contest.

Who should win (based on entire season): N/A
Who should win (based on individual episodes): I like Hanks, but I’d be fine with Ahmed also.
Who will win: I’m really not too confident, but I’m going to pick Hanks over Chappelle.

Next up: Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

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